BOOK EXCERPT: Willpower vs. Religion | Self-Direction vs Destiny & Determinism (How to Conquer Yourself)
Here’s a quick excerpt from my book, How to Conquer Yourself: Discipline & Willpower for the Conscious, Creative Thinker. To get two (2) full chapters – completely FREE – scroll down. To hear client feedback and testimonials thus far, click here and for personally-autographed copies, delivered extra-fast, use this paypal link.
The Origins of “Willpower” (pg. 104)
“So as Americans began to question and challenge the traditional, Victoria notions of ethical conduct and religious obedience (they were now free from the social pressures which relegated them to it), the Church was forced to find a new way to reach the American public.
Willpower was thus the Church’s reactionary campaign: it became a key slogan in their quest to retain influence over a morphing society with a transitory sense of ethical code. In came an influx of literature such as Samuel Smiles Self-Help in 1859, Frank Channing Haddock’s The Power of Will in 1907 and so on, all sharing the same idea…that one could live somewhat of a religious life – that one could withstand the enticements of the industrial (then modern) world even without the normal structure and limitations of a deeply-religious, communal village – simply by honoring the call to morality that lie inside him.
The idea was that even without regular church attendance, indeed without any religious inclination whatsoever, God places within us both an internal moral compass ALONG WITH the internal resolve to follow it successfully at all times. The process of acknowledging this compass and obeying this force was ‘having willpower.’
In the recent book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, a contemporary read we’ll explore later, co-author John Tierney says:
‘As farmers moved into industrial cities during the nineteenth century, they were no longer constrained by village churches, social pressures and universal beliefs. The Protestant Reformation had made religion more individualistic; the Enlightenment weakened faith in any kind of dogma whatsoever. Victorians thus saw themselves as living in a time of transition as the moral certainties and rigid institutions of medieval Europe died away. A popular topic of debate was whether morality could even survive without religion.
Many Victorians came to doubt religious principles on theoretical grounds, but they kept pretending to be faithful believers because they considered it their public duty to preserve morality. Today it’s easy to mock their hypocrisy, but considering all the new temptations available to them, it was hardly neurotic to in search for new sources of strength. As Victorians fretted over moral decay and social pathologies concentrated in cities, they also looked for something more tangible than divine grace, some internal strength that could protect even an atheist.
They began using the term ‘willpower’ because of the folk notion that some kind of force was involved – some inner equivalent to the steam which was powering the Industrial Revolution itself…”
So keep this in mind: in the early 1800′s, people truly believed the industrial revolution would bring an end to Christian life and all morality; our very notion of willpower and what it means stems from the literature and propaganda created in light of that fear.” ~ pgs. 104-105 of How to Conquer Yourself
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